Editorial

Choices, Choices -- We rate CART's possible venues for 2002 and beyond
 
by Mark Cipolloni
July 4, 2000


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CART has some tough choices to make in the coming years about where to hold its races.  Below you will find our analysis of all the venues under consideration.  Depending on your interests, you may not always agree with our analysis but, we tell it like we see it.  We had to make some tough choices.

We have included existing venues, venues CART has asked Chris Pook to look at, and other's CART should be looking at.  In developing the evaluation we took into account ten factors that contribute to a successful schedule; 1) CART's need to add more warm weather venues so racing can start earlier in the year, 2) the need to reduce some of its dependence on the Mid-West so it can take advantage of overseas and other big US markets, 3) attendance, 4) track layout, 5) fan amenities, 6) a balance of ovals, street and road courses, 7) a limit of 5 overseas venues, 8) demographics, 9) racing history, 10) the type of circuits CART has been successful on.  We did not evaluate the venues CART already announced it will drop.

After our evaluation we show a map of the recommended venues with an improved geographic dispersion from what CART currently has.  It includes 5 overseas races and 19 North American races - 24 races per year (25 if you include Indy), 8 ovals (32%), 8 road course (32%) and 9 street races (36%).  There are 6 venues with weather warm enough for CART to race earlier in the season, starting in mid-January to beat NASCAR to the early season punch and to satisfy CART's desire to move their schedule starting earlier in the season and ending in early fall.

In the verdict column, if we give the race a thumbs up, we include the month the race could be held.  There are 2 races in January, 2 in February, 2 in March, 3 in April, 2 in May, 3 in June, 3 in July, 3 in August, 3 in September, and 2 in October. 25 races total, a very demanding schedule, and one certain to put a lot of pressure on the teams to meet.  

The only way to make it work is to eliminate Spring Training and CART's open tests.  That eliminates 4 expensive, relatively obscure, CART events that are almost as hard on the teams as actual races.  This years schedule has 20 races, 21 if you include Indy.  That's equivalent to a 25 race race schedule (21 + 4), the same as proposed for 2002 and beyond, except CART would be doing it 25 times in front of a TV audience and the paying customer.

Venue Plusses Minuses Verdict/Month
Australia
(Street)
Probably the favorite venue for everyone in CART, huge attendance, beautiful location, beautiful weather, decent street course layout Travel is hard on teams Keep it
Early - Feb.
Boston
(Street)
Nice city, a race in New England desired Finding a suitable location may be hard, New England has not traditionally supported open wheel racing, cold climate means race must be scheduled in congested summer months Don't go
Brazil
(Oval)
Big increase in attendance this year, lot's of Brazilian drivers in CART, only South America venue, could be run early or late in the season Brazil economy sometimes uncertain, area surrounding track so-so, will be hot in February Keep it
Late Feb.
Chicago
(Oval)
Big City, big attendance, would make for a popular night race Not such a great track configuration Keep it
Mid-June
Dallas
(Oval)
Big City, should get big attendance, warm weather for early venue, Texans love Champ cars, can run under the lights Too many seats to fill for CART, bad for image,  high banks may be tough for Champ cars Add it
Early May
Cleveland
(Road Course)
Good attendance, great racing on wide runways, great city Track is hard on equipment, track is wide but featureless Keep it
Early July
Denver
(Street)
Great sports town.  CART race used to draw good crowd there, fills much needed gap in that region of USA Would probably need to be held during already crowded warm weather months Add it
August
Detroit
(Road Course)
Automobile capital of the world Too many politics, too many mid-west races, poor previous attendance Drop it
England
(Oval)
Motor racing capital of the world - CART needs to be there, many CART manufacturers there, longing for a F1 alternative Will Brits like oval racing?  Is almost square track conducive to passing?  Wet climate Add it
September
Fontana
(Oval)
Great track, good racing, good previous attendance, can be run late in season as Grand Finale High speeds have proven dangerous Keep it
Mid-October
Germany
(Oval)
European economic powerhouse, home of Mercedes, gives CART access to untapped eastern Europe which is starved for more open wheel racing Track is not near large city.  Not many hotels in area Add it
September
Houston
(Street)
Big City, gets big attendance, warm weather for early venue, Texans and Mexicans love Champ cars Humid climate is sometimes unbearable.  Will attendance be hurt by addition of nearby Monterrey to schedule? Keep it
Early March
Indianapolis
(Oval)
Although it is an IRL race, it's still open wheel racing's signature event and the world's biggest race.  CART should leave room in their schedule for this one. Can CART teams afford to buy equipment for only one race every year?  Can they afford not to? Keep it
Late May
Japan
(Oval)
Gaining in popularity, Japanese fans fanatical, home to Honda and Toyota, beautiful track, only race in Asia Wet climate, ingress and egress difficult Keep it
Mid April
Laguna Seca
(Road Course)
Beautiful part of country, the corkscrew, can be run early or late in the season Declining attendance, dry parched land, attendance may drop further if San Francisco added Drop it
Las Vegas
(Oval)
Great place to entertain guests, would make for great racing, a much needed warm weather venue Town has not supported open wheel/IRL racing, too many seats to fill to risk tarnishing CART's image Don't go
Long Beach
(Street)
CART's signature event, beautiful venue, beautiful people, beautiful weather, big crowds, lot's of movie stars None Keep it
Early April
Michigan
(Oval)
Fabulous high-speed  racing, traditional venue, not too far from Detroit - the automobile capital of the world Too many grandstands for CART - empty seats make CART look very bad and they add more seats every year for NASCAR, not a lot of nearby places to entertain corporate guests Drop it
Miami
(Street)
Great Cosmopolitan City, would give CART much needed Florida venue, Can be run as season opener in mid-January, was very popular the one year CART ran downtown CART should have never left the streets of Miami - could be bigger than Long beach today Add it
Mid Jan.
Mid-Ohio
(Road Course)
Great natural terrain road course, good attendance Track is a bit too narrow for powerful Champ cars.  CART should insist it be widened Keep it
August
Milwaukee
(Oval)
Traditional venue, maybe best small oval for racing Even if it sells out, can only hold 40-50,000 which is not enough to pay for CART's rising sanctioning fees, old facilities, too many mid-west races, declining attendance Drop it
Mexico
(Road Course)
Mexican fans love Champ Cars, attendance should be fabulous if tickets priced right, can be run in January or February, two Mexicans in CART, close enough for team transporters to drive to race Too early to tell but track configuration may not lend itself to good passing Add it
Late Jan.
Montreal
(Road Course)
Beautiful city, Canadians love auto racing, especially French Canadians, F1 circuit has all the necessary race amenities and is ready for Champ cars; F1 drivers, owners, fans say Montreal is their favorite race; reachable by CART transporters, two French Canadians in CART, F1 race drew 262,000 for 3 days, Canadian GP promoter Normand LeGault wants to add CART race to Gilles Villeneuve circuit Could only be run between May 30th and October 15 due to cold climate Add it
July
Nazareth
(Oval)
Pretty part of country, home to the Andretti's Poor attendance, layout not conducive to passing Drop it
NY City or Phila.
(Street)
New York City is the financial capital of the world and headquarters to a majority of largest firms in the world.  Potential for 200,000 + attendance.  Great place to entertain corporate guests, would become CART's biggest race almost instantly. Philadelphia might be good alternative, but to a somewhat smaller scale Race must be run in downtown city streets to be successful, therefore, must be a 2-day event as they don't close New York's streets unless you are the Pope.  Getting political approval will be difficult, just ask Bernie Eccelstone.  Neither are known as historical racing towns.  Will only work if you bring the racing to the people. Add it
Early June
Phoenix
(Oval)
A lot of open wheel tradition, another much needed warm weather venue CART's attendance was declining when it left. Would be lucky to draw 50,000 for the weekend, too many other venues that would draw more Don't go
Portland
(Road Course)
Beautiful city, good attendance, good track layout, a fan favorite Ridiculous Festival Curves ruin expensive equipment every year Keep it
Late June
Road America
(Road Course)
Absolutely America's best road course, a driver and fan favorite, good attendance, should remain a CART fixture forever. Not an abundance of hotels nearby, needs improvements to Paddock area, could use a few safety improvements Keep it
August
Road Atlanta
(Road Course)
Another beautiful road course, recently upgraded to FIA safety standards, owner Don Panoz willing to do what it takes to get a CART date, great promoter, in geographic region CART currently has no race, a lot of hungry SE USA road racing fans, relatively warm climate to support early season race Atlanta is NASCAR country and in general has not had a great history of supporting open wheel racing, at least not on ovals, last turn before pit straight might need some safety improvements for fast Champ Cars Add it
Late March
Toronto
(Street)
One of CART's signature events, beautiful venue, beautiful people, beautiful weather, big crowds Cold climate means race must be run in congested summer months Keep it
Mid-July
San Francisco
(Street)
USA's most beautiful city, large population, great place to entertain corporate guest's, Mayor wants a race, talk is of a course laid out near the new baseball stadium where it is relatively flat and an area the City wants to redevelop ala Long Beach Will be difficult to get local approvals, most streets have too much elevation change Add it
Late April
Vancouver
(Street)
Beautiful venue, large attendance Paddock area still needs some improvements, not a lot of passing zones, constant construction in City requires constant changes to track layout Keep it
Early Sept.
Washington DC Capital of USA, if Nazareth is dropped, CART needs a race or two along the east coast NY City would be better choice, sponsors don't seem to be saying Washington DC is that important to them, getting local approvals would be difficult, little or no racing history Don't go
Watkins Glen
(Road Course)
Beautiful venue, challenging track, a lot of history, a fan favorite, perfect venue for early fall when autumn colors are in full bloom Requires numerous safety improvements for Champ Cars, like Road America, not an abundance of nearby hotels, not certain ISC willing to invest in improvements just for CART Add it
Early Oct.


Although the mid-west still has a lot of races, the recommended venues give CART some much needed geographic dispersion in the USA
Click on map to see larger view

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